A Tarot de Marseille “Energy Translation” Tableau

Here I align the seminal “root power” of the Ace and the linear binary projection of the Two with the “agency” of the court cards and the situational “ways and means” symbolized by the remaining pips to produce a developmental tableau that enlivens Tarot de Marseille delineation. Rather than following the esoteric assumption that only the Princesses (Valets or Knaves in the TdM) interact directly with the Aces, I bring all of the court cards to bear on the transition from potential to kinetic expression of the inaugural moment in any projected event. The Ace shows a single-pointed impulse or capacity for launching the action appropriate to its suit and the Two reflects the initial thrust of that force into the world. (Paul Marteau describes the function of the Two as “hatching” and an “inclination to expand,” both of which are perfectly credible.) The rest of the pips conduct its practical import into life’s multifarious circumstances and the court cards act as facilitators to translate and embrace the realization in human terms.

The King takes the initiative “under advisement” and, in his magisterial wisdom, either “lays down the law” (the Four) or exercises magnanimous restraint (the Six) as he sees fit; the Queen mulls it over with care and patience, and produces something fruitful in the Eight and the Ten; the impetuous Knight acts without reflection or hesitation and may wind up in trouble with the unbalanced Three and Five; and the Valet studies the complex options offered by the Seven and the Nine with utilitarian aplomb and embarks on the most propitious course. Of the four courts, the youthful, agile and expressive Valet is the most closely attuned to the facile tactical aim of the Ace and the opening volley of the Two (it is the eleventh court card, which factors to 1+1=2). It’s probably no accident that the 19th Century occultists chose it (or its alter-ego, the Princess) as the “Throne of the Ace” from which the energy descends into manifestation.

This hierarchical scheme is experimental and the combinations shown are not exhaustive; the idea behind it is “initiative served by agency” (in other words, the abstract concept in its infancy and the human willpower to make it manifest, however effective or ineffective that actualization might be). If an Ace, the associated Two and one of the court cards of that suit appear together in a reading either in sequence or scattered, any other cards could theoretically be seen as subordinate to their “one-two punch” (or would that be “three-pronged attack?”) and may be judged according to how they’re “mixed-and-matched.” It reminds me of a “power chord” in guitar playing; the rest is just incidental “harmonics.”

We might think of it as the Ace “putting on a suit of clothes and stepping out.” Maybe it brings its umbrella instead of its walking stick, but the principles of ancillary consideration remain the same. More than one Ace or court card in a reading could show competing agendas or a fight over resources. I haven’t thought of how the trump cards might be integrated, but I tend to see them not as representing “big-deal” occurrences in a situation and more as conveying the background “theme” or “tone,” so it may not be all that difficult since the “human factor” is the key to interpretation.

CBD Tarot de Marseille, copyright U.S. Games Systems, Stamford, CT

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